How to Give My Shih Tzu a Puppy Cut

The puppy clip is easier to maintain than this full coat.

The puppy clip is easier to maintain than this full coat.

Unless your Shih Tzu is a show dog, giving him the puppy clip is the best way to keep him cool, clean and comfortable. A full grooming requires time and practice, but he won't mind if his haircut's not perfect at first, while you master this money-saving skill.


Teach your dog to accept and even enjoy the grooming process by starting early. Your Shih Tzu will probably not need serious grooming until he is about 6 to 7 months old, but he can learn earlier than that that being brushed while lying still in different positions doesn't hurt. Introduce him gradually to the various grooming tools, such as clippers and scissors, so that he will not be surprised or frightened by them.

Groom the dog on a firm, nonslip surface such as a table, a desk, a counter or even the floor. Think about his safety and your back, and choose a place comfortable for both of you.

Brush the dog thoroughly to remove all mats and tangles from his coat.

Select a fine blade for the clippers, such as a #10 or #15, to clip carefully around his eyes, nose, ear openings, anus and genitals. If he doesn't like the clippers in these sensitive areas, use thinning shears or round-tip scissors. Check as you clip for local irritation or other problems that may need medical attention.

Change blades to a #2 to do a rough clip of the whole coat, except the top of the head, ear flaps and tail plume. Clip in the direction the coat grows (this may change in certain areas), and be careful not to clip close to the skin -- clipper blades can get hot. The higher the blade number, the tighter the cut, so this blade should leave the hair 1 to 2 inches long all over the neck, chest, body, belly and legs.

Turn back the ear flaps and pluck any excess hair from the ear canals with the hemostat.

Clip the nails carefully, taking off only the tips or any curved part. File any rough edges smooth.


Bathe the dog carefully with the appropriate shampoo and apply any other desired coat-care products.

Towel-dry the dog. Keep him warm while he's wet.

Blow-dry the coat until it's completely dry -- if left damp, he will probably stay that way and may get skin problems.

Final Clip

Brush the coat out thoroughly.

Comb to find any missed mats or tangles.

Run the clippers over the coat again to even out any long patches or rough edges. Always work in the direction the coat grows, watching for changes in the hair pattern.

Finishing Touches

Trim his tail plume by combing it out and using straight scissors to shape a gentle curve.

Use the clippers with a fine blade or the round-tip scissors to trim the hair between the pads of his feet. Then trim the hair around the outside of the foot so that it's even with the nail tips.

Comb the legs and scissor off any long hairs so that the legs look the same diameter from top to bottom.

Comb the legs and scissor off any long hairs, so that the legs look the same diameter from top to bottom.

Comb out and trim the top of the head into a cap or leave it long in a topknot held out of the dog's eyes by a band, barrette or bow.

Items you will need

  • Dog clippers
  • Clipper blades (#10, #15, #2)
  • Thinning shears
  • Round-tip scissors
  • Hemostat
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Shampoo, conditioner, towels and other bath needs
  • Blow drier
  • Slicker or pin brush
  • Metal dog comb
  • Straight shears

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Photo Credits

  • shih tzu dans la neige image by Jeff LEONARD from Fotolia.com